Those who do not learn from history are condemned to repeat it, and the New York Rangers are not interested in repeating their performance Monday night against the Washington Capitals. After losing Game 2 to the Washington Capitals on their home ice, the New York Rangers know what they have to do. Discipline and focus is mandatory.
The Rangers must win at least one game on the road in this series to advance to the next round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. Their first round series with Ottawa where they were even 1-1 after the first two games at Madison Square Garden was a lesson. They learned how to evaluate, regroup and regain control of their game becoming comfortable playing on enemy ice.
As the Blueshirts prepare to play in front of an intimidating Sea of Red at the Verizon Center, the Rangers have a good chance to beat this thing and win. The Capitals have lost two of three games on home ice to the defending Stanley Cup champion Bruins. The Caps are pumped returning to their home ice with a momentum swing placing Alex Ovechkin and Nick Backstrom together for the maximum physical advantage. The Caps will taunt the Rangers with the physical play that cost the Blueshirts a win in Game 2.
Morale is good in the locker room, despite the loss. The players are “kicking themselves,” over the win they had in their hands. Coach Tortorella and the players are mentally focused and understand the smart physical play that is needed to avoid taking penalties. The Rangers lost four playoff games at the Verizon Center. Even though this is only Game 3, it’s a pivotal one for New York to take control of the series for a team expected to win the Stanley Cup.
Coach Tortorella is optimistic, but won’t let on to the media. His answers to the media were brief and to the point regarding Ovechkin and Game 3. Having won the Jack Adams Award as the NHL coach of the year for leading the Tampa Bay Lightning to the Stanley Cup title in 2004, Torts knows how to win the whole shebang. He is a finalist for the honor again this year for his work with the Rangers.
Torts did comment on Rangers’ forward Brandon Dubinsky making the trip to D.C. Duby did not skate this morning, and was seen on crutches around the practice facility. Apparently, he suffered a lower-body injury Thursday in Game 7 of the Rangers-Sens series, when he was checked along the boards by Ottawa’s Zack Smith. Duby is a factor in the physical nature of New York’s game, but has been criticized for his lack of effort all season.
Brian Boyle, who returned from a concussion to play in Game 2, is expected to be in the lineup once again for the Rangers. Boyle wants to get back into the flow after reviewing and rejuvenating his effectiveness in the series. Considered the playoff hero in this Rangers’ run, Boyle knows the team can make a deep playoff run. Rangers’ sources expect him to “provide 16 solid minutes as 2-way center,” rather than play any type of hero.
The pressure is on for the New York Rangers to learn from history. Avoiding costly mistakes will catapult the team onto the next round. Historically, New York has a 2-4 playoff series record vs. the Capitals. The Caps hold a 20-16 all-time record vs. the Rangers in the post-season. The Rangers finished with the best record in the Eastern Conference and the second best overall in the NHL. Now, making it to the Stanley Cup is the history the Rangers want to repeat.